Palangkaraya-Palm oil is likened to two sides of the same coin. On the one hand it is the backbone of Indonesian economy, on the other hand it is considered as the biggest cause of degradation of the quality of forest ecosystem in Indonesia. According to Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), in 2018 the contribution of palm oil foreign exchange reached US$ 20.54 billion or equivalent to Rp289 trillion. However, the losses incurred are considered invaluable. Oil palm expansion into forest and its monoculture system is considered a cause of loss of biodiversity, degradation of the quality of forest ecosystems, and natural disasters.
Resolving this problem requires a comprehensive policy strategy. Not only to stop the expansion of oil palm plantations, but also how to minimize the impact of expansion, both on the environment, social, and economic community.
"KEHATI (Indonesia Biodiversity Trust Fund) is working with various stakeholders to find solutions to the problem of smallholder palm oil that are already inside forest area. The aim is to increase biodiversity and sustainable use of palm oil and other commodities, using tools such as strategi jangka benah (SJB)," says Executive Director of KEHATI, Riki Frindos.
Strategi Jangka Benah (SJB) or the Long-term Rehabilitation Strategy is one of the efforts offered by Faculty of Forestry of Gadjah Mada University (UGM) together with KEHATI to solve problems of monoculture smallholder oil palm plantations that are already inside forest area. Jangka Benah is the period of time needed to achieve desired forest structure and ecosystem functions according to management objectives. In SJB, the process of improving structure and function of forest ecosystems damaged by expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations is carried out in stages, with focus on improving the ecology, social and economic aspects of community.
The first stage in SJB socialization is to change the monoculture smallholder oil palm plantations inside forest area into mixed crops in form of agroforestry. Types of plants to be planted include sengon (Albizia chinensis), agarwood, meranti/Shorea, and jengkol (Archidendron pauciflorum). These plants were chosen because in addition to providing ecological impacts, they also have economic impact to society.
Executive Director of KEHATI, Riki Frindos, planted jengkol seedlings in oil palm plantation with a long-term rehabilitation strategy intervention in Karang Sari Village, Kotawaringin Timur Regency, Central Kalimantan Province.
However, oil palm agroforestry isn't run as smooth as it should. Results of identifications from the Faculty of Forestry, UGM (2018) indicate that practices of oil palm plantation mixed with forestry plants (oil palm agroforestry) has been carried out in various regions in Indonesia, but on a limited scale. The reason is that oil palm farmers still have doubts about adopting oil palm agroforestry mainly because they have assumption that managing oil palm agroforestry is more complicated than managing oil palm monoculture plantations.
Another assumption is that the addition of other types of plant to monoculture oil palm plantations in the same plot of land will cause a decrease in production of fresh fruit bunches. Farmers also hope to be shown a concrete examples of well-managed oil palm agroforestry that provide better economic benefits than monoculture oil palm practices. In addition to the lack of oil palm agroforestry practices, other issues in implementing SJB at grass root level are lack of institutional and policy support, both from the central and regional governments.
Long-term Rehabilitation Strategy (SJB) Socialization
Strategi Jangka Benah (SJB) is considered as one of solutions to palm oil inside forest areas. To socialize the SJB, KEHATI with Faculty of Forestry UGM and Central Kalimantan Provincial Forestry Service held a series of activities including Kick-off/launching of SJB in Central Kalimantan and making demonstration plot of oil palm agroforestry practices.
The launching started by introduced SJB activity to multiple parties about various oil palm agroforestry planting patterns that can be adopted by farmers, especially to those who already got the social forestry permit. This activity also made to gather support from stakeholders in implementing SJB, specifically in Central Kalimantan Province area.
The Long-term Rehabilitation Strategy (SJB) was also socialized through the making of demonstration plots at grass root level. One of the demonstration plot locations is in KPHP Mentaya Tengah - Seruyan Hilir or often abbreviated as KPHP Menteng-Selir, East Kotawaringin Regency, Central Kalimantan. The location was chosen because it has a monoculture plantation cover in a fairly large area managed by the smallholders and companies that has potential of conflicts. In addition, based on field surveys, interviews with village communities, and focus group discussions, it shows the readiness of some farmers in the KPHP Menteng-Selir area, especially those in Karangsari Village to implement SJB.
"The Long-term Rehabilitation Strategy (SJB) is a parallel series of strategies for improving palm oil governance in Indonesia. SJB through oil palm agroforestry (with palm oil commodities combined with sengon, meranti and jengkol) is expected to result in an improved structure and function of the forest ecosystem, while still taking into account the community's economy," says Director of the Strenghtening Palm Oil Sustainability in Indonesia (SPOS Indonesia) program from KEHATI, Irfan Bakhtiar. "This strategy is expected to help the handling of plantations in forest areas, with mutually beneficial solutions for the ecology and economy," continue Irfan.